I Love Dementia! Inspirational Stores of People Affected by Dementia
by Dawn Wiggins, RPN,
President and Director of Operations of New Dementians Professional Healthcare and PAC Certified Consultant, Trainer, Mentor, and Speaker
I’ll be honest, I have been curating this book, I Love Dementia: Inspirational Stories of People Affected by Dementia, for more than a year. Fiddling with the right combination of stories, authors, and concepts. I have put my everything into this book. So, you’re getting that as well as the fifteen incredible authors who have put together their real-life stories, poems, and journals to reflect what it’s like to live with or love someone with dementia. Putting together this book was exhausting and wonderful and a once-in-a-lifetime process and I am just now getting the confirmation I hoped for. It was all so incredibly worth it.
Seeing his words in print, one of our authors, Norm MacNamara says,
I feel such a sense of satisfaction knowing that my story and this book will be helping others.
Another author, Janice Swink, says,
I feel humbled. I am struggling more now but I’ll keep going for now. But contributing to the book brought me joy. I’ve always said if I can help one person in this journey then it is worthwhile.
A third author, Jim Smith, who affectionately goes by the nickname, Hillbilly Jim, says,
Sharing my story makes me feel like I’m doing something to educate others on a disease that has no cure. I want people to know that this can be a young person’s disease too. Maybe if we raise more awareness then more research will be done so that this disease can be cured for our kids and grandkids.
But why even put together a book on dementia and why the title, I Love Dementia?
While I’ve found my calling and have been a nurse for more than two decades, my heart is with seniors and their families. I have a true passion for people living with dementia. This plays a large part in the reason why I chose the title I Love Dementia for this book. All too often, they are the forgotten ones, scared and feeling hopeless, with only a single beacon of light to look to; a care partner.
When first working with people living with dementia (PLwD), I had no specific training for it, made some mistakes, and learned from them, but found that these people (and their families and friends) I worked with gave me great joy. Good times were still present within these people and I wanted them and me to savor every moment of it. These people had tremendous stories and lives that the world had tuned out, much to the detriment of the PLwD and the community around them.
In my work, stories of PLwD, their care partners, and loved ones keep coming up as a recurring theme. The stories of the people I’ve worked with are powerful and even life changing. So, I decided I wanted to share some of these stories, poems, and journal entries with the world. Which leads me back to why I’m sharing these stories.
There are many reasons to do so. For one, I felt it important to preserve the person’s legacy and history. So, what’s in it for me and what’s in it for the reader of the book? Inevitably, dementia, an umbrella term that covers numerous disorders that involve cognitive decline, Alzheimers being one of the more famous, will affect almost everyone at some point in the future. You may experience dementia yourself or may know of someone who has or will have it. You may even become a care partner in the future for someone with dementia. By telling these stories, it is my hope that when dementia does affect someone’s life, it is less shocking and less painful. The person who reads I Love Dementia will look back on their time reading the book and have a sense of if they’ve been through dementia and lived with dignity and purpose, then so can I. These stories make the impossible, possible.
And that’s what we need a little more of in this world isn’t it? The miracles in the mundane. The magic in the every day. Words that inspire courage within us to fight another day when we’ve been knocked down. Thanks to these wonderful authors, we have a book that does that for us in I Love Dementia.
Dawn is a registered nursing professional in the province of Ontario and has over 20 years of frontline healthcare experience. She leads a dynamic team of healthcare experts dedicated to one thing, making a positive impact in the lives of people living with dementia and their care partners. Rather than focusing on tasks like most people, Dawn and her team focus on caring and bringing as much joy as possible to the lives of each client, every day. Dawn has served in several different capacities over the years and has a wealth of experience in acute care, long term care, psychiatric care, home care, rehabilitation, and palliative care. She has built and managed world-class dementia care neighborhoods at the institutional level.
Her greatest passion is caring for people living with dementia and their care partners. PAC skills help her have a deep and unique understanding of the disease that allows her to connect with her clients and their families in a very special way.